cover image The Bangkok Asset

The Bangkok Asset

John Burdett. Knopf, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-307-27268-3

An unusual crime scene disturbs Sonchai Jitpleecheep in Burdett’s wild and entertaining sixth novel featuring the Thai homicide detective (after 2012’s Vulture Peak). Near the corpse of a 12- or 13-year-old girl, whose head seems to have been pulled off her body by sheer brute force, someone wrote a message in the victim’s blood indicating that the writer knows who Sonchai’s father is. Before he can really process this suggestion regarding his unknown biological father, Sonchai witnesses two men in a boat each throw a woman off a boat to drown in the Chao Phraya River during a storm. The tragedy only gets weirder when video of the crimes shows that the boat’s other passenger, an enormously strong “tall blond farang,” swimming to shore against a raging current. That man is seen meeting with Joseph Goldman, a CIA spook, who was involved in notorious mind-control experiments. Impressively, everything comes together for a dramatic and satisfying, though downbeat, ending. Agent: Jane Gelfman, Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents. (Aug.)